U of M professor studies the styles of Supreme Court justicesby Cathy Wurzer, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments today over whether the federal health care law is constitutional.
Many court observers are watching the justices closely for any hints on how they might rule on the case.
Timothy Johnson is a University of Minnesota political science professor. Along with a team of linguists, he's researched Supreme Court oral arguments going back to 1979. Johnson told MPR's Cathy Wurzer that it's often possible to tell what the justices are thinking by listening to their tone of voice or choice of words.
"We've been able to show that if you listen to the emotion of the justices' arguments, in fact, usually it is anger, or using skeptical words or using words that are considered not as nice, you can very much get a sense of which side the justices seem to be supporting and which side they are not supporting."
Johnson says yesterday's oral arguments make him believe the Supreme Court will rule on the case despite an argument that the court does not have jurisdiction.
(Click on the audio link to hear the full interview.)
- Morning Edition, 03/27/2012, 7:40 a.m.